Meet the artists featured in the exhibition, Under Pressure: Painting with Air – A Survey of Contemporary Airbrush Realism, organized by David J. Wagner, LLC. This week we will highlight the last four artists on display. These artists come from all across the United States and beyond. Their works, wide-ranging in theme, all feature airbrush as the principle medium of expression.

Alan Pastrana

Queens, NY & Plainville, CT

Alan Pastrana, ELVIS Tribute Portrait of The King, 2019, acrylic urethanes on aluminum, 24 x 29 in.

Alan Pastrana’s earliest artistic influences can be traced to his Queens born and bred roots. Coming up in New York in the ’80s and ’90s during the birth of Hip Hop and graffiti art, Alan’s childhood was spent sketching and mimicking the ubiquitous “pieces” adorning the city’s walls. From there Alan was exposed to New York City’s embrace of airbrushed designs on apparel. Inspired by a chance visit to a window display in a SOHO boutique featuring live airbrushing, Alan started designing and selling his own airbrushed designs at the young age of 15.

After high school, he attended the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan, majoring in illustration. He received extensive training in life drawing, painting, portraiture work, color theory, composition, anatomy drawing, fine art, and fashion drawing. His academic instruction at F.I.T. influenced his appreciation of many classical and contemporary masters such as Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Caravaggio, John Singer Sargent, Norman Rockwell, Frank Frazetta, H.R. Giger, and Alberto Vargas. What separates Alan’s airbrush work from his competitors is his ability to implement traditional academic methods into his ever-evolving, fresh and contemporary work.

It was this commitment to the melding of old and new, of craft and instinct, that attracted the likes of Kanye West in 2015. Alan was commissioned to create Yeezy t-shirt designs, custom airbrushed jackets, and a slew of portraits for merchandising. In 2020, Pastrana was commissioned again to create several works of Biblical art for Mr. West’s own personal collection. Other notable clients include fashion designer Heron Preston, Nike SB, Old Navy, Arts in Architecture, NY Mets Major League Organization, Ovation Guitars, recording artist Rachel Platten, Peppermint Schnapps, and the Patron Spirits Company. His work has been featured in several magazine publications, including Vogue, Easyriders, Custom Motorruder, V-Twin, and covers of Airbrush Step By Step and Airbrush Action. Alan has also taught airbrushing throughout the US and internationally, holding workshops in the Netherlands, German, Spain, Mexico and Colombia.

Since 2000, Alan has been the owner and lead artist of Pastrana Unlimited Airbrush Studios in Plainville, Connecticut. Pastrana Unlimited specializes in automotive airbrushing and custom graphics, painting everything from choppers, hot rods, and aircrafts, to canvas illustrations, fashion designs, celebrity portraits, and fine art. The versatility of his work speaks to his passion for embracing the new, while honoring and incorporating the discipline of traditional art. Alan remains passionate about elevating the craft and looks to the future with enthusiasm for what’s to come in this exciting, evolving art form.

Cesar Santander

Cadiz, Spain & New York, NY

Cesar Santander, Desserts, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30 in.

Artist Statement

I first began taking photos of nostalgic antiques and childhood objects to use as references for my paintings after being influenced by pictorial magazines and the first generation of photorealist painters. During my career, I have explored numerous series of images; each painting leads to a new idea, and some ideas are so different that they lead to a totally new series.

Photos continue to be the most important element in my work, and serve as a constant source of inspiration throughout my painting process. My paintings usually take four to twelve weeks as I refine the photographic information in many ways to create a work of art that is far subtler, richer, and more personal than the photo could be. My goal is to make the most detailed and beautiful paintings of the subjects I choose.

Hisaya Taira

Tokyo, Japan & New York, NY

Hisaya Taira, Umeda, 2006, acrylic on canvas, 20 x 28.62 in.

Hisaya Taira first began producing photorealistic paintings based on photographs after he graduated from university. As a university student, he worked in an abstract style, but he long had faith in his detailed drawing ability. Drawing photos during pauses in his work would gradually set him on a path of photorealism. His subjects were “ordinary scenes” of urban Japan and North America. His first photorealist paintings span the last half of the 1980s through the early 90s, when he painted scenes of suburban Japan. Starting around the mid-90s, his main subject was North America. “In America, there are ordinary scenes of extraordinary quality. When I first walked the suburbs, I was fascinated by the empty space – something that Japan doesn’t have – that felt like suddenly being freed from an enclosure. I was sure that what I was looking for was here, and from that point, America came to dominate my everyday scenes.” Taira’s subjects are such mundane places as empty parking lots and roads on sunny days and subway platforms. The particles of light that fill the place and all of the textural features are meticulously painted onto the canvas. Moreover, his compositional technique selects angles that stress the vanishing point and bring out perspective. Like a daydream on canvas, Taira’s paintings crystallize superb technique stripped of all emotion. When gazing at a Taira painting, one is almost overwhelmed by their expansiveness. In his North American scenes, Taira established a style that injects his “ordinary scenes” with a quiet stoicism. – (edit): Miura Tsutomu, Curator, Tottori Prefectural Museum)

Joshua Zarambo

Richmond, VA

Joshua Zarambo, Warrior, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 19 in.

Joshua Adam Zarambo is a Virginia-based artist specializing in a wide variety of mediums, from oils to aerosol and acrylic. Using Old Master mischtechnik for modern photorealistic and hyper-realistic paintings, Zarambo’s fine art style is forever evolving to adapt to the constantly changing world we find ourselves in. Finding inspiration in history, as well as in nature, his work continues to push the boundaries and limitations of what an artist can accomplish when one’s mind is focused.

Zarambo Art is branching out to other mediums, including digital arts like CGI for film and music videos, as well as laser art for multilayer mandalas, privacy screens, and more.